Fixed Allele Differences Associated With the Centromere Reveal Chromosome Morphology and Rearrangements in a Reptile (Varanus acanthurus BOULENGER)

Jason Dobry, Zexian Zhu, Qi Zhou, Erik Wapstra, Janine E Deakin, Tariq Ezaz

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Chromosome rearrangements are often implicated with genomic divergence and are proposed to be associated with species evolution. Rearrangements alter the genomic structure and interfere with homologous recombination by isolating a portion of the genome. Integration of multiplatform next-generation DNA sequencing technologies has enabled putative identification of chromosome rearrangements in many taxa; however, integrating these data sets with cytogenetics is still uncommon beyond model genetic organisms. Therefore, to achieve the ultimate goal for the genomic classification of eukaryotic organisms, physical chromosome mapping remains critical. The ridge-tailed goannas (Varanus acanthurus BOULENGER) are a group of dwarf monitor lizards comprised of several species found throughout northern Australia. These lizards exhibit extreme divergence at both the genic and chromosomal levels. The chromosome polymorphisms are widespread extending across much of their distribution, raising the question if these polymorphisms are homologous within the V. acanthurus complex. We used a combined genomic and cytogenetic approach to test for homology across divergent populations with morphologically similar chromosome rearrangements. We showed that more than one chromosome pair was involved with the widespread rearrangements. This finding provides evidence to support de novo chromosome rearrangements have occurred within populations. These chromosome rearrangements are characterized by fixed allele differences originating in the vicinity of the centromeric region. We then compared this region with several other assembled genomes of reptiles, chicken, and the platypus. We demonstrated that the synteny of genes in Reptilia remains conserved despite centromere repositioning across these taxa.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbermsad124
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


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